Monday, March 7, 2011

A Matter of Chance - Discussion Thread

Harriet and Friso and their three kids make an appearance.  Friso looks 'cheerful'...which is more than he usually looked in Tempestuous April (aka Nurse Harriet Goes to Holland). Haughty Harry must have a salubrious effect on his disposition.
The flu epidemic that swept the world in 1977-78 was the Russian flu pandemic (it's in wiki somewhere)
The 1977–1978 Russian flu epidemic was caused by strain Influenza A/USSR/90/77 (H1N1). It infected mostly children and young adults under 23 because a similar strain was prevalent in 1947–57, causing most adults to have substantial immunity. The virus was included in the 1978–1979 influenza vaccine.
Evidently Cressida's parents and the elderly doctors hadn't gotten the immunity memo.

When one part of a triangular conversation with him and his mother, Cressida 'stokes his rage' on purpose because he'll have to be polite to her in front of his mother. Hil-freakin-arious.  It sounds like something I might have done in my younger years. I love that it's really his mother that starts it all. She's my kind of mother-in-law.
When Cressida is trying to think of something to fill an awkward silence, 'Her head filled immediately with snatches of a song, the first lines of a dozen hymns, even a half forgotten recipe for bread, but not a single graceful phrase.'  I'm impressed with all the things she does think about.  When I get in those kind of situations, my mind just goes blank. There's nada, zip, zilch. Elvis has left the building.

Giles quotes Jane Austen: 'Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.' and he disagrees with that.  First of all, a man quoting Jane Austen? Sure, it could happen, but really? Dr. van der Stevejinck will cheerfully sit down and watch a Jane Austen movie with me - but read one? Unlikely. It's not that he's too's just that, well, he's a guy.

According to Amazon, there are 1472
pages in this edition, which makes it
only just slightly shorter than the entire
Bible (Old and New Testaments combined)
 Dr. van Blom had written his entire book out in longhand. Ouch. I've seen technical books - they tend to be printed in small type and weigh approximately as much as a small European nation.  It makes my hand cramp to even think about having to do that. Didn't The Great Betty write at least her few few books out longhand?  I wonder if she would have written even more books, had she had a modern computer?  What about Jane Austen?  I was chatting with Betty Keira about this very thing, and she said "didn't Tolstoy's wife have to write out War and Peace longhand...about seven times? I had to look that up - here's what I found:
The Tolstoys had 13 children, eight of whom survived childhood.
Tolstaya was a devoted help to her husband in his literary work. She acted as copyist of War and Peace, copying the manuscript seven times from beginning to end. In 1887, Tolstaya took up the relatively new art of photography. She took over a thousand photographs that documented her life, including with Tolstoy, and the decline of pre-Soviet Tsarist Russia. She was also a diarist and documented her life with Leo Tolstoy in a series of diaries which were published in English translation in the 1980s. Tolstaya wrote her memoirs as well, which she titled My Life. The University of Ottawa Press will publish them on May 15, 2010. 
After many years of an increasingly troubled marriage—the couple argued over Tolstoy's desire to give away all his private property -- Leo left Sophia abruptly in 1910, [at the age of] 82...

Giles tells her of his time during the occupation when their lands had been confiscated and he had to share a flat with his grandmother which is as near poverty as any RDD gets, I think. Giles also mentions that his father was a doctor and left him 'in charge' (at the age of 5) when he was arrested. Here's a snippet about the Dutch Resistance from a longish wiki article:
...One of the riskiest activities was hiding and sheltering refugees and enemies of the Nazi regime, Jewish families like the family of Anne Frank, underground operatives, draft-age Dutch, and others. Collectively these people were known as onderduikers. Later in the war this system of people-hiding was also used to protect downed Allied airmen. Reportedly, resistance doctors in Heerlen concealed an entire hospital floor from German troops...
First of all - cool.  Second - how? Enquiring minds want to know.